Story and images by Erich Eichhorn (ISN)

August 25, 2013, Shawnigan, BC (ISN) – ISN’s Owner Scott Harrigan caught up with Kerry Park Islanders head coach and former NHL player Dale Purinton during a preseason home game to get his views on his team, coaching, and life in the Cowichan Valley after professional hockey.

Kerry Park Islanders owner Mark Osmond recently signed Puriton, once a perennial defenseman for various teams in the AHL, ECHL and the New York Rangers of the NHL, to a contract extension through the 2015-16 season. Osmond couldn’t be happier with being able to retain Purinton on the Islander bench, siting commitment to his team and community as an important factor in his decision.

Owner Mark Osmund, singing the praises of his head coach Dale Purinton, is upbeat about the coming regular season and his organization –
Erich Eichhorn image ( ) 

“Dale is an outstanding coach and we are absolutely thrilled to have him stay on with our club,” said Islanders owner Mark Osmond. “Dale is committed not only to our organization, but the community. His knowledge, passion, teaching ability and positive enthusiasm are beyond exceptional.” 

Purinton on Community and Coaching

After finishing his professional playing career in 2008 with the Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL, Purinton undoubtedly could have made a coaching career with any AHL tier team in North America, but fell in love with the Cowichan Valley and the community, choosing it as the right place to raise his family and continue his coaching career.

DR6F2278dalebenchIslanders coach Dale Purinton mentors his team on and off the ice, investing in each players future. Seen here coaching his team during a 2013-14 preseason home game – Erich Eichhorn image (

When asked about his belief, and his mentorship to his teams’ commitment to giving back to the community, coach Purinton would explain, ” There were many things I was fortunate with. One of those things was my Dad playing pro hockey, and from a young age he said there are certain ways to be, and certain ways to act, and without community, without fans, we don’t have jobs. People love the sport, and they’re living with you and through you to play a game that you (players) should be honored to play and privileged to play, and that’s how you have to approach it. I have had other great coaches along the way. I’ve been fortunate to have good people around me, even to this day.”

The Kerry Park Islanders brain trust poses for ISN. The coaching staff are looking forward to getting the season underway September 4th against the Westshore Wolverines – Erich Eichhorn image ( ) 

Purinton sees his coaching as a mentorship position, as well as investing his knowledge and experience in each of his player’s future. “We only have these kids for four years. It’s a short time. I think (as role models) the more we invest in these kids, as other people invested in me, one day one of these kids might coach for one of my own kids, or be a teacher of one of my kids. These kids are going to grow up to be men in our community. It’s a big responsibility as a coach.” 

Is the Game Still About Winning?

After the end of any professional sports career you could ask if there is anything more to reach for. After all the training, injuries, and high-octane competition of professional hockey, Harrigan would ask Coach Purinton if the game is it still all about the WIN? 

DR6F2315on goal
Islander skates in on goal for an uncontested back and shot in preseason action against the Saanich Braves – Erich Eichhorn image ( )

The former NHLer would wax philosophically, “It’s a hard thing (to explain). I think we change as people and coaches. At one time it was only about winning, especially when I played. That’s how I was raised, but as you get a bit older, and the game is changing, it is still about winning because that is what people come to see, but it’s also how you win, and how you conduct yourself (in the community and on the ice). I had to speak to a couple of players about slamming gates and swearing. We have kids, fans, men and women, and people don’t need to hear that from a young guy, so that’s the lessons learned. Character comes out when you have a bad game, or a bad season, and that’s when you need to find that character and be good teammates, be positive.” Puriton would finish his thought by saying,” Winning is the same as loosing. It becomes a habit. To me, now, it’s not just about winning. It’s about how we conduct ourselves as we go along to prepare for a win”.

Coach Purinton’s Outlook On This Year in the VJHL

After a successful 2012-13 season in the VIJHL, Coach Purinton was asked to comment on his thoughts about the future of the VIJHL. When asked if he felt, in his opinion, the league is going in the right direction, Purinton would comment, ” I think the skill has improved and is catching up. Hockey has changed a lot, and players have to adapt. I think the league has started to become a feeder system into the BCHL. If you look at the guys moving up to different leagues and the BCHL, I think the league is doing well. The teams (in the VIJHL) are becoming very competitive.” A humble coach, complimenting his competition, Puriton would add, ” If you look at the team in Victoria last year, that was one of the strongest teams this league has ever seen. We just keep setting the bar (higher). I think they’ve (VIJHL) done a good job.”

Purinton Denounces Fighting in the VJHL

daleKnown for his physical style of play in his pro career with 578 penalty minutes over five years with the New York Rangers, Puriton would be quick to comment on the rules implemented in the VJHL regarding fighting. “I think the league is going in the right direction. From the days they called it (the VIJHL) “The Jungle”, it was more of a rougher league so to say. I battled hard when I played; I had to fight quite a bit. If I was a scorer, I probably wouldn’t be dropping the gloves, but in todays game it’s changed. After your third fight in this league you start getting suspended so fighting, I think, will be out. I don’t understand, why after three fights or one fight in game, you’re out of that game. So why is there fighting? If you try standing up for another player, your not rewarded, you’re just kicked out (of the game), so take it (fighting) right out of the game.

Dale Purinton during his professional career – Photo courtesy of World Wide Web